8 Replies Latest reply on Oct 27, 2010 7:50 AM by breadmanorange

    User-Defined Variable not Updating at Generate Layout


      Hello, Forum Posters,


      I've created a RoboHelp 8 file that's chock full of user-defined variables throughout the thousand or so topics. When I generate WebHelp, I get a great-looking document that, because of the variables, looks like it was written exclusively for one of our clients.


      Then, to give the help system to the next client, I open the User-Defined Variables pod, change the values of the three variables to match the next client, save the project and generate WebHelp again, making sure to check the box that says "Republish All" on the last screen before committing to the actual publish.


      Trouble is, many, if not all (lost count after the first dozen) instances of the old variable value persist in the system. When I open the topic from within RoboHelp, the new value is there. I suspect, like the refrigerator light, that my opening of the topic is what causes the value to update to the new one.


      Is there a way to force the values to update in every topic without opening every topic so that when I generate WebHelp for each client, I can just change the variables to match their needs and get on with my life?


      Thanks in advance.


      Brad M.

        • 1. Re: User-Defined Variable not Updating at Generate Layout
          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional

          I'm trying to get this clear in my mind.


          You have three variables that are used in many places in the system. Let's call them CoName, CoPhone and CoEmail.


          Before generating you update all three but in the output, some of them display with the previous value, not the new value?


          Always the same ones?


          See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips



          • 2. Re: User-Defined Variable not Updating at Generate Layout
            breadmanorange Level 1



            More specifically,


            I have five user-defined variables and a handful of variable sets: one set for each of our clients, representing their HomeCity, their Name and their CEOName. Three of the variables change values from set to set, as you might expect because our clients work for different companies around the U.S.


            When I set up properties for the WebHelp Single Source layout, on the first parameters screen in the Content region, the fourth drop-down menu is Variables set. I change this to Client A, which represents Fred from Cleveland. Fred's CEO is Angela.

            When I generate the content and do a search using the built-in search tab built into WebHelp (latest version of Internet Explorer), I'm finding instances where Steve is still the client's name, the CEO is Marion and the city is New York.


            Some of the topics that have these variables inserted into the text are automatically being updated upon generate, while others aren't.


            Prior to creating sets, I was manually going into the Variable pod and changing the values by hand for each of the clients prior to output. But the result was pretty much the same.


            Clearer or no?

            • 3. Re: User-Defined Variable not Updating at Generate Layout
              Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional

              I think so.


              When you want to generate WebHelp you have one layout and you select one of the sets.


              If the variable set is A, the CEO is Angela


              If the variable set is B, the CEO is Marion


              Except that in some topics when the set was A, in the output that is showing as some other name instead of Angela.


              Have you tried duplicating the layouts so that you have one for each variable set so that the outputs go to different folders and so that you don't have to change the setting each time. There is nothing wrong with what you are doing but maybe this will fix the problem. Make sure you change the output folder in each layout.


              If not post back telling us if it is the same ones that stick each time.


              See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips



              • 4. Re: User-Defined Variable not Updating at Generate Layout
                Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                Hi there


                In addition to what Peter suggested, I'd be scrutinizing the page(s) where you are still seeing the older name. It's quite possible that the page originally had static text and later the static text was replaced with a variable. And it's so easy to miss things like this.


                Cheers... Rick


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                • 5. Re: User-Defined Variable not Updating at Generate Layout
                  breadmanorange Level 1

                  Thanks for your responses, guys.


                  Rick, I went in to several of the topics that are being generated incorrectly (with the wrong value for the variables). I made minor tweaks to a few of these topics and saved them, but with the remainder, I simply opened the topics, checked that the variable was in position and not a hard-coded value, and closed them without changing or saving them.


                  Peter, I then went and duplicated the WebHelp layout, giving it a name specific to the client in question and making sure that the Variables Set drop-down menu was set to that particular client.


                  Then I generated webhelp for the client layout.


                  The topics that I had tweaked and saved were no correct. The topics that I did not change or save show the wrong value even though when I viewed the topics in design view they held the correct value.


                  My guess was that RoboHelp was lazily reusing the old html files that it had generated previously, even though I had instructed it to RePublish All. So, to be sure, I threw away the entire contents of the !SSL! folder to make sure that the next time, RoboHelp would have to regenerate everything from scratch. I even emptied the recycle bin to make sure the old webhelp files were forever gone. Just in case you're wondering, I did not run a security erase application on my hard drive to scramble the zeroes and ones in the sectors where the old webhelp folders resided. But I'm considering it!


                  After all this, I re-ran the WebHelp single source layout generator again, did a search for the old value and found it in the same exact locations.


                  HOW DO I DESTROY THESE ZOMBIE VALUES? There has got to be a better way than opening, tweaking and saving hundreds of topics every time I want to customize the webhelp file for one of my clients.


                  Am I completely missing the point of variable sets? I thought that what I'm trying to accomplish was exactly the sort of thing they were built for. Somewhere, the old values are persisting, and RoboHelp is not going through each topic to find variables and confirm what the latest value should be.


                  Any other ideas?

                  • 6. Another clue about these zombies
                    breadmanorange Level 1

                    When, in RoboHelp, I use the Edit Menu's Find and Replace in Files function to search for the zombie term, I can find it in numerous topics. Through the Find/Replace dialog box, I can see the noxious old value in the HTML of the topics. It is sitting there just after the variable is mentioned. But, when I open the topic in HTML view, the correct value is clearly visible. The Find/Replace dialog box is seeing the old value, but the HTML View and Design View are seeing the correct value.

                    • 7. Re: Another clue about these zombies
                      Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional

                      It looks like editing the topic in HTML View is what is needed.


                      See www.grainge.org for RoboHelp and Authoring tips



                      • 8. Undocumented Requirement in Variable Sets
                        breadmanorange Level 1

                        I think I found the solution to eradicating zombie variable values. If it is documented, I haven't found it, although it's possible it is written somewhere.


                        If you want to create different variable sets so that each time you generate output, all the variables in your topics automatically change to the different values for each variable set, each topic containing variables must be associated with a master page.


                        I figured this out on a hunch. I went through all of my topics, associated all but a few to master pages, saved them, changed the variable set for the output and generated a WebHelp file in which the only zombie values were in the few topics I had not associated to master pages.


                        I'm done testing this out. If you think I'm off base, feel free to comment But I think the variable set replacement relies on master pages to do the update.